Your Online Cup of Tea
Three friends. Closer than brothers. Fighting to save what they love. But one of them is a traitor. Read this dramatic battle, as the story unfolds, keeping you guessing till the end.
There was a sombre atmosphere in the room. The three young men sat quietly by the fire place, each huddled in their cloak. Lost in contemplation. Everyone else was either busy or sleeping. All of them echoing the silence. Outside were howling winds and the constant pitter patter of rain drops on the window. These were the only sounds accompanying the crackling flames. Along with a squeaking mouse in the corner. Every now and then one of the men stood up and went by window. Staring longingly outside.
“Would you please stop doing that?” asked a long haired man by the fire.
“Just leave him alone,” said the person beside him.
“Oh but now seriously Stan, he keeps getting up. It’s annoying. Odeon is not coming back.”
“Come on, we’re all still trying to deal with it,” answered Stan wearily, as if this had been the hundredth time, “Trying to get to grips with the reality of it all,” his voice trailed off.
“Well, it seems like some of us,”the long haired man began, eyeing towards window, “won’t accept reality. Some of us would rather pretend. Some of us keep acting as if Odeon isn’t de-
“Shut up! Shut up! Just shut up!” turning around towards the others, he held his fists in the air, “I’m sick of it Clive! Sick of it! You’re snide remarks and insensitive slurs. I’m tired of it,” his voice breaking as he fought back tears.
“And I’m sick of you and your crying around.”
“We just lost one of our closest friends, our leader!”
“We all did! But you’re the only one still crying about it!”
“You don’t even pretend to care! You haven’t even shed one tear!”
“This is no time for getting emotional,” continued Clive,”It clouds your mind and leads to stupid decisions. It’s for things like this that Odeon died in the first-
“Don’t you dare!” yelled Eoin. He pulled out from his side what looked like a long dagger made of clear glass. At the same time Clive drew his, opaquely blue. They stood their ground, holding them up with their right hands, aiming for the others head.
“Woah, woah!” Stan rose to meet them, “Put those down. Seriously, the last thing we need right now is for one of you to get a horrible injury.” Almost as soon as he finished talking, a loud repeating noise grabbed their attention. Bring horror to their faces…
I was getting tired of running. My pace was almost insignificant at this point. He didn’t attack since last we stood face to face. It was obvious by the horrid laughter that came every few moments that he was enjoying this. The sweat was starting to sting my eyes. And the pounding rain made it hard to see. But I had to get near the forest. It wasn’t too far ahead. If I could just- Clack! The ground next me exploded in a flash of light, sending rocks and dirt down my way. I fell hard, badly cutting my left hand on a sharp rock. It was foolish of me to keep this distracted. Not sensing his attack coming at me. “Argh!” I jumped to my feet, drawing the dagger. The air around me began to hum. It was coming. I dove to the right. Why? He could have been aiming there. Luckily he shot to my left and I had covered myself from the debris. He continued to laugh. As if it were all some kind of game.
“Come now, it’s not target practice if you’re moving!” he jeered. Lost in the confusion, I forgot that I wore the Helmet. As the humming started again, I focused my eyes, looking right at him. Suddenly, things got quiet around me. The rain drops kept their place, hanging in the air. Were it not for the imminent danger I was in, this would have been a beautiful moment. Ahead I could see his sword light up. A beam moved towards me at walking speed. It took a few seconds before I was able to move. But eventually I got out of the way. The lighting went right past me and squinting, I stood there looking at it in awe. It was so stunning. So bright. So deadly. Turning back to him, things sped up again, returning to normal. He didn’t move for a while. The realisation of what I had just done was hitting him.
“Nice!” he shouted, “but you’re going to have a pretty hard time keeping that up for long.” Once more I could feel the vibrations as the humming began. And once more I easily dodged his strike, taking this advantage to run closer to the forest. But the veracity of his words were soon becoming clear. The energy in my body was beginning to drain. A slight headache was forming, increasing slightly each time I focused. I had to take a break from the Helmet. I turned around towards him and aimlessly fired several blue orbs from the dagger. I could tell he was caught off guard. But none of them hit. Again I fired at him, this time being intentional with my shots. He quickly held up the Silver Shield. Suddenly it went transparent. With each impact of the orbs, the Shield’s metal seemed to ripple, sending them right through it and past him. Like he was a ghost. His mocking laugh increased in volume and fervour.
“If that’s the best you’re going to do, then this is going to be cake! You’ll die just like your friend.” How could he say that? Those words pierced like a knife to the back. But I saw this day coming. Only recently it became clear that one of the two was a traitor. Even so, it was still hard to take. The three of us had been so close. Though now the other one was gone, sneakily disarmed and killed. And the one left, I no longer recognised. His laugh was starting to infuriate me. Angrily, I dug my dagger into the ground. Pulling it back up, many stones and rocks rose with it, hovering around me in the air. I swung his direction, and they followed, flying quickly at him. His shield managed to deter some. But by the raging shout I could tell damage was done. Whether his pride or his body was hurt more, I did not know. Overcome with fury, he fired smaller shots at me, missing over and over. A second time I found opportunity to repeat my attack, wounding him once more. With him temporarily out of action, I ran past the forests edge hiding behind the nearest tree. Praying that I wasn’t seen.
“I’m really getting tired of your sticks and stones!” his voice boomed. I could feel the air vibrate. Quickly, I pulled the cloak over my head and hoped for the best. A loud clash to my right sent small objects firing at me with much speed. After it felt like things had settled, I raised my head to see that the tree next to me had all but gone. Its remains scattered all about. I couldn’t risk having the one behind me get hit as I sat there. Diving back into the open, I fired shots as soon as he became visible. But his shield absorbed them all. He raised his sword into the air, drawing lighting from the sky. With both hands I held out my dagger in his direction, keeping it steady as a large blue orb was forming at its tip. The second I saw him swing, I let go and fired the sphere of light. Our blasts met in the air, giving way to a loud earth shattering clatter. Left behind was violet mist which seemed to increase steadily in brightness. Until it too exploded. One second I was standing. And the next, I found myself in agony, lying face down on the ground. Whether I had been there for two minutes or two hours, it wasn’t clear. But my eyes struggled to open and my ears wouldn’t stop ringing. The overpowering smell of burnt wood filled my nostrils and the air felt thicker. Hard to inhale. Moments later when I had managed to sit up, I saw that there were barely any trees left in the surrounding area. They were for the most part scattered about or burnt to their trunks. The ground beneath me also felt significantly warm and dry for such a wet and stormy evening. The green wet grass around me now scorched and black. My left hand too stung heavily, bringing the cut back to mind. Ahead, I could see a figure walking towards me in the smoke. Immediately I recognised the laugh. When I saw his face, it appeared he had made it through the explosion, seemingly unscathed. Whilst I lay there trembling, unprepared to face him…
The alarm had woken up the manor. There was panic as they all made their way for the basement. Most still had on bed robes, having not found time to change. Clive who was leading the group held his dagger in the in air as it shone brightly. The other two were beside him doing likewise, trying to keep order. Besides the three of them, only one other person was dressed. Her silver hair and crystal blue eyes reflecting the little light they had. In contrast to her brown skin sticking out amongst a group of paler than usual faces. Pushing past the crowd of half a dozen or so, she made her way to Stan.
“I don’t know how, but the energy sphere is down,” she said, trying to mask her anxiety, “we’re surrounded on all sides by the Raiders. They’re armed and have brought the Wolves too.” With one hand running through his hair, he looked away giving a heavy sigh.
“Okay, we’ve prepared for this,” he began, scanning the worried faces around him, “I’ll take Clive and Eoin out to the gallery. We have no choice but to use the Relics now. You know what to do.” With a nod she left, leading the people away in one direction. When everyone had left, they walked to the end of the dark corridor. Standing in front of a cold stony wall, each of them placed their right hand on a brick. A low rumbling was heard as the wall slid into the ground. They stepped across quickly, as it closed up again. As soon as it happened, the torches up alongside the new corridor lit themselves. Illuminating their long descent down some spiraling stairs.
“Now that we’re alone,” said Clive, “I want to know who forgot to put up the energy sphere.”
“Stop looking at me!” snapped Eoin, “It wasn’t my turn. It was Stan’s”.
“I did put it up. I double check every night.”
“Did you double check this night?” asked Clive.
“No… I was going to in the next hour. Same time every time I do it.”
“How convenient,” continued Clive, “the one night when you should have done it-
“I did put it up the first time. I never forget to do it.”
“Well aren’t you perfect?” The rest of the walk down the stairs was quiet. Ever since Odeon had gone things seemed to fall apart. And these three were left in charge of the Resistance. Nothing felt safe anymore. It was only a matter of time before their hideout was found. After what seemed like forever, they reached a large silvery door. It had no handle or key hole, only three circles engraved across the front. One by one, they took out necklaces, each with a different stone. Placing them in the circles and the door slid into the ground. The entrance led them to a large domed room. There were green patterns along the stone walls. Their glow being the only source of light. At the centre were what looked like three stone altars. Each having an item suspended in the air above them. A sword, a shield and a helmet.
“The Relics,” said Clive, awestruck at was before him. Going a few steps ahead, he noticed that his feet came to a halt, tripping him over.
“What on earth?” he asked, getting back up. Try as he may, it seemed there was a thick invisible veil, blocking his step.
“We have to move together, same steps,” answered Stan, “the Relics are not usually to be handled by one person. It’s protected that way.” Clive grunted and stood back, lining up with the rest.
“My Valopinne isn’t lighting anymore?” noted Eoin, waving the dagger over his hand.
“I suppose that’s another protection?” said Clive. Stan nodded, keeping his eyes straight ahead.
“No powers can work in here, so that no one can-” he was distracted by a voice. It appeared to be coming from beneath his cloak. Reaching under, he took out what looked like a locket. Opening it, the voice increased in volume.
“Stan! Can you hear me? Stan!” It was the girl from earlier. Besides her cry, much noise and destruction could be heard in the background.
“What’s happening? Winter! Can you hear me?”
“There’s too many of them. Charly is down.”
“They knew Stan! They knew about the secret way out. We can’t fight them off much longer. Please hurry!”
“Winter?!” There was only silence from the locket as Stan repeatedly called out to her.
“Let’s get the Relics quick and head out to fight!” shouted Eoin. Without saying a word, the three of them stood in a line.
“Right foot first, eight steps,” said Stan, standing in the middle.
“Does the right foot count as the first of eight steps?” Clive let out an annoyed tut, as Stan hurriedly explained what he meant. After all was understood, they slowly paced for towards the altar. Each of them had a Relic assigned, in case they were needed. It had been over 10 years since the last person had used one. They had only heard of their abilities from tales and folklore. But here they were, about to take hold of these legendary treasures. Clive reaching for the Shield, Stan for the Helmet and Eoin… for the Sword…
“It’s about time you curled up and died,” he said mockingly. I could see my Valopinne lying a few feet away from me. He noticed this too and shot at it with a hot blast. Leaving behind ashes.
“Well, I’ve got to admire your fighting spirit. Too bad you’ll have the same fate as your precious little toy… I think,” he raised the Sword up high, “this is the end… my friend.”
A red orb began forming over his head, drawing swirls of dust and wind. Quickly, I drew out a second Valopinne from my side, and aimed it at him. I could see the shocking distress on his face. His attack wasn’t ready and I was about to finish him. Out of nowhere, a shot came from behind me. It hit my left hand, now on fire. I cried out, dropping the Valopinne, desperately patting my hand off the ground.
“A-Araya.” My once proud attacker, now lay low, genuflected on one knee, trembling.
“You dare say my real name in the presence of an enemy, Clive?” I could tell that the approaching voice belonged to a woman. It carried with it an air of frightful authority, melodically clouded.
“I’m sorry Matilda, it was my mistake to-
“I do not care for apologies. Only results. You almost lost there, had I not intervened.”
“Yes your Grace-
“SILENCE!” she demand. The one whom we had long fought. The name we had come to fear, that mothers “ne’er called their daughters no more.” I turned on my belly to glimpse the monstrous mystery that plagued our land. She had a purple cloak over her long green robe, covering down to her waist, leaving only her hand showing. And likewise her robe covered all except some of her left leg, showing that she was barefoot. Her light brown tone seemed to have shimmering glow of its own. She had hair and eyes much like Winter’s. Matilda looked like and older version. Could… could this be? “Me and her… have a shared past.” Winter’s words echoed in my head.
“Well? What are you waiting for? Finish him.” She said, pointing at me. Clive obeyed, getting up quickly, making his way towards me. He pointed the Sword at my head. I still couldn’t believe he would do this. We were barely out of the gallery when he stabbed Eoin’s throat with a blade, before grabbing the Sword straight away. It was only by some miracle that I had managed to escape and lead him out here. Away from the others.
“Good riddance to you,” he began, “now you can go join Odeon, that idiot Eoin and those other losers in the grave.” The humming was beginning again.
“No!” I shouted, “it’s over for you!” Straightaway, I held up a small gem, between me and his blast. As soon as the lightning made contact with me. It vanished. As did my helmet. As did his Sword and Shield. Dumbstruck he stood there empty handed, unable to accept what had just happened.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?” yelled Clive! He fell on top of me, pounding my face.
“What! Did! You Do.” Now it was my turn to laugh. He looked back fearfully at Matilda, who wore a large scowl with eyes wide open.
“They’re gone!” I laughed, “all that effort for nothing.”
“Back to their original forms. What I held up, and you destroyed just a second ago was their source stone. You’ve just rendered them powerless. They’re no better than regular old weapons now. Even a cheap Valopinne would be preferable.” Clive yelled out in pain as a streak of light hit his side. He doubled over bawling like a child.
“Failure is intolerable,” said Matilda, pointing a violet staff in his direction. After he managed to get to his knees, Clive crawled over to her feet, kissing the ground by it.
“P-please, l-let me live Matild- M-Master. I beg you.” With an expressionless face, she proceeded to dig his head into the ground with her foot.
“Luckily, I have use for you yet.” Clive looked up hopefully, thanking Matilda over and over.
“As for you,” she turned, walking towards me, “Given that the Relics are gone, you are of no threat to me. End him Clive. And make it quick.” She drew a large sword from her side, handing it over.
“Where are the “Mighty Three” that were supposed to defeat me?” sneered Matilda, “One is dead, One has betrayed, and last has destroyed the supposed instruments of their victory as he lies on deaths doorsteps.” Clive laughed maniacally as holding the blade over my neck. Waiting for her order to strike the final blow.
“And your friends,” began Clive, “probably all dead by now. What’s the point of a secret passage way, if your enemy knows of it?” I closed my eyes. I would not let my last thoughts alive to be horrid. I wasn’t going to give them that victory…
Stan and Winter rested in each other’s arms. They gazed at the large full moon. The star lit night and warm breeze were a small comfort on this dire day. Odeon’s funeral left everyone feeling lost. He was the one with the plan. The one that held the group together. It was so sudden and unexpected. Living and hope-filled one day, ambushed on another, buried the next. It was of little consolation that they had the body. Their enemies had left it as a sign. A sign that the symbol of victory for many was conquered.
“We might not have much time now,” said Stan, “Odeon long suspected that there was traitor among us. He was narrowing it down to Clive or Eoin.”
“I still… find it hard to believe,” answered Winter, in a trembling voice.
“This day… I wouldn’t have believed it either, if someone told me it was coming.” A few minutes of silence passed before he began again.
“His death confirmed that it was one of those two that sold us out. We were the only ones that knew about the den or how to get in. So I’ve come up with a plan to weed out who it is.” Stan found it hard to talk. But he had no choice but to go on.
“We’ll wait in the safe house. Nobody knows where it is. Again except us. I’ll make it seem like I don’t intend to leave it. Like we’re giving up and staying there. The traitor,” he said uneasily, “will eventually grow tired and call for an attack on the house. He’ll disarm the security. We’ll have no choice to go and retrieve the Relics. He’ll probably tell them about the secret passage way too. But what he doesn’t know is that Odeon had a third one that only I know about. You’ll take everyone there. It will lead you to a cave that will bring you to the ocean. You’ll find Odeon’s Subvoyager there and escape. But first, after five minutes you’ll call my locket and pretend they’ve caught you. That way you’ll all be safe while the traitor thinks you’re captured.”
“What about you? What will you do?” asked Winter, looking up at him as she lay in his lap.
“I’ll try and stall for time. When the traitor is revealed, he’ll have either the Sword or the Shield. We’ll fight him off as best as we can. Keep the locket near you to hear what’s happening. And hold on to these,” he said, giving her two small glowing gems, “It’s a source crystal. One for each relic. When you reach the Subvoyager, bring the two close together, I’ll have the third. It’ll glow when that you do that and I’ll know you’re safe. Then I’ll destroy it. The Relics will disappear and return to you by the two remaining source crystals. Their powers will return three days later.” Brushing her hair aside, he smiled at her. A tear fell from his face, landing on her cheeks.
“And if I think I won’t make it-
“Stan…” she found no other words to say.
“Pay attention to your locket. If I think I won’t make it, I’ll say the phrase “it’s over for you”…You’ll know not to wait. But I promise you. My last thoughts would be good ones. Knowing that you’re safe. I won’t let them steal that last moment from me. I’ll be glad, because you’re safe…”
Safe. The words kept repeating in my head. It didn’t matter what happened to me now. I did everything to make sure she was okay. I could go in peace.
“Now!” said Matilda. Stan swung into the air. Sword held high. I heard a quick swoosh coming at me before… it was finished. Over. And then there was light…. A glorious light.